Research Project

Te Ara o Raukawa Moana

Active kaitiakitanga in response to climate change

Ko Te Rauparaha te rangatira o Kāpiti me Te Moana-a-Raukawa

Raukawa Moana, the Cook Strait, is of the highest cultural and spiritual significance to Ngāti Toa Rangatira. Our seafaring and waka histories and traditions enabled travel across the sea highway for raupatu, trade, seasonal customory harvesting, events and whānau. Te Ara o Raukawa Moana is a research project of Ngāti Toa Rangatira to enable active kaitiakitanga at Raukawa Moana (Cook Strait) in response to climate change.

Image by Wiremu Grace (Ngāti Toa), from Whakakitenga, a VR film following Ngāti Toa Rangatira leader Te Rangihaeata

Our waterways, coasts and seas have been compromised by environmental degradation. Sacred waters have been buried under land reclamation and polluted by discharges. Climate change is further drowning our significant coastal places.

Our research project responds to climate change by drawing on our long history of ocean navigation, waka and our mātauranga which is based in and emerges from Raukawa Moana. Our responsibility towards the environment is an ancestral inherited right and central to cultural identity and resilience of Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Our research will bring together kaumātua and rangatahi, as well as other iwi members, to understand and plan for climate impacts on our significant coastal sites (such as islands, pā and urupā).

Our research also aims to ensure that iwi connections with our isolated coastal places are deeply understood as the basis for adaptation planning and environmental monitoring. These connections are visible in our ability to access and occupy our whenua and motu, in the health of our kaimoana and our moana, and in our mātauranga.

We will identify and reinvigorate tohu moana, and through mahi toi, will give them a modern expression, to ensure they are understood and can be incorporated into our planning frameworks.

Coastal markers, rocks and pou were a critical part of the Raukawa Moana tradition. On the coast north of Papanui (Boom Rock) was an ‘escape route’ called Te Ara Taura, which was a rope stairway used to climb up and down a rocky cliff when the tide was high, and when travelling along the coast, especially in times of trouble to gain access over to Te Tau Ihu.

In this example, mahi toi associated with Te Ara Taura will serve as:

  • A marker of sea level rise (including from the late 1800s to now)
  • A tool to ‘visualise’ sea level rise over the next 15-80 years
  • An aid to wānanga the past and present ‘state’ of the climate – drawing together many kinds of embodied knowledges
  • An aid to trigger and guide kōrero around new adaptation decisions.
Waka crossing Raukawa Moana from Wairau, George Angas, 1844

Our research will culminate in voyages across Raukawa Moana to bring to life the knowledge we have gained throughout the research process.